Returning To The Office; How This Might Look For Your Business?
September has been pinpointed as the month when many businesses hope to reopen their doors and welcome back their employees. Exciting times, but not without due consideration as to what steps should be taken. There is no doubt that companies are each positioned differently in terms of what they have done, what they can do, and what they need to do, but regardless of these differences, the pervasive question remains: when offices re-open, what will be going back to work look like…..
- What will be the most practical approach for your business?
- Will you be implementing a full-time return to the physical office for all or a flexible, hybrid approach with some employees in-office, some working from home and some working from co-working hubs?
- How will your company determine the mechanics of a return to the office?
- What tools do you need to ensure a seamless return regardless of the structure you will be implementing or currently have in place?
- In your current layout, can you facilitate the need for the 2m rule?
- Are you applying stages to your reopening: short-, medium- and long-term solutions?
Next Stop, Destination Office
Whether you were already prepared for remote working or catapulted into the zone overnight, the one thing that remote working has taught all businesses, is that offices have become a destination. Like it or not, we adjusted to working from home, it might not have been ideal in certain circumstances, but it worked and so did we. What is has highlighted is that we no longer ‘need’ a physical workspace, but let us face it, many of us want nothing more, the sooner the better. And so, ‘Destination Office’ happened.
Thanks to the flexible, hybrid approach of working that many will be adopting, dedicated workstations are no longer vital, out with the old and in with the new; open desk / hot desk policies, greater demand for collaborative areas and meeting spaces. Let’s face it, this approach is not really that new and has been on the radar for a number of years, however, what seemed like the territory of Silicon Valley is a reality for many more companies than are given credit.
For several years and more so in the past 12 months, our team has been working extensively with companies of all shapes and sizes, focussing on how their office space can be redefined, ensuring ample desk availability for focussed work that encompasses the implementation of a flexible, hybrid approach. With others, we have strategized on what can be done to accommodate the full return of all staff in a safe, practical, and comfortable manner.
Floor Planned or Floor Puzzled?
Office reconfiguration and redesign can sound daunting, but once your goals and objectives become clear, the rest is easy. Central to a cohesive work community is collaborative and informal workspaces that will comfortably and safely facilitate informal meet-ups, planned brainstorming, project discussions and so much more. No longer constrained by dedicated workstations and instead fired up by the opportunity to collaborate, share and benefit from the post-pandemic revival of the workplace social connection between colleagues and friends.
Desk Booking Systems – Your Desks Managed For you
Certainly, for the short to medium term, it is anticipated that a blended work approach will be implemented with employees working a portion of their week in the office and the remainder remotely, either from home or in a co-working space.
Desk and room booking management solutions are the ideal way to remove manual processes of utilising building and office capacity by implementing a transparent and intuitive booking system. Ideal for both your return-to-work strategy or a longer-term solution to maximise your building use and office space.
This cloud-based smart software solutions for desk and room booking and visitor management tools are easy to use. The software can also be adapted to integrate into smart lockers for personal storage, car spaces and has various other uses to help maximise building optimisation irrespective of whether you operate a dedicated or hot desk system in your office.
Your team can make a booking via the portal, app or outlook and benefit from key features including the ability to easily select and schedule dedicated workspace for the days they will be in the office, giving you full visibility and control over the number of people on-site in an office at any given time.
In the short term desk booking data is about controlling and managing occupancy, but in the long term the data gathered will enable businesses to plan accurately for future workplace needs.
Supporting Wellbeing with Change
For many of us, the return to the workplace will be met with cheers as we abandon our kitchen tables swapping the commute to the kitchen with a commute back to what will feel like civilisation – thriving on the community spirit in our place of work and loving the opportunity to collaborate in person. However, we must be mindful that there will be many among us with mixed feelings.
Never underestimate the impact of office design on health and wellbeing.
Noise is a common hazard in the workplace and excessive noise, whether that is loud and interrupting or the ongoing hum associated with background activities are among the highest contributors to stress and ill health in the workplace. Acoustic solutions absorb the noise, thus reducing the volume and impact of soundwaves. Acoustic Solutions provide a strong focal point, delivering privacy options for meeting spaces, ensuring they are fit for purpose, and with brands such as Abstracta and Friends of Wilson leading the charge in this space, the options are endless.
We have spoken many times before about the impact of biophilia on the mind and the impact of biophilia in the office. Simply put, Biophilia is our inherent human connection to the natural world in all forms and living systems and the power of biophilic design in the workplace is on an ever-increasing upward curve.
We spend an estimated 11 hours a day using and interacting with technology and up to 93% of our time indoors. Therefore, the fast-paced living environment that we inhabit has us searching for more connections with the simpler things in life. That deep-rooted human connection with nature has an undeniable biological restorative effect. Think forest walks, the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore. They all have undeniable healing, calming, restorative effects.
Using materials and textures in design that distinctly reflect the natural environment is another element of biophilic design that is easily introduced to the workspace. Interface explore the power of biophilic inspired designs through their collections which directly mimic natural surfaces and textures. Incorporating natural stone or wood in either sculptural decoration or bespoke joinery – think reception desks or bespoke joinery structures that will also tap into the biophilic design. Lots of natural plants and greenery in the workspace can achieve the desired effect and soften the space at the same time.
Another topic that is deeply ingrained in what we do is in the ergonomics of a workspace, when implemented correctly, ergonomic design helps to reduce discomfort at work which increases productivity, wellness, and employee satisfaction. From the perspective of an employer, this reduces absenteeism and increases employee welfare and employee engagement.
More and more companies are seeing the investment in ergonomics as a sound investment and significant evidence suggests that the presence of a companywide approach to health and wellness has long-term financial benefits.
Options span a wide range of ergonomic task seating, with our award-winning manufacturer Humanscale excelling in this space and we are seeing a dramatic increase for height-adjustable workstations such as the Mobility by Actiu and the very clever Eco Stand Lite by Humanscale which can be retrofitted to an existing fixed-height workstation.
As the saying goes, one size does not fit all, and we understand that better than most. Our team of interiors experts and CAD designers are on hand to supply a free consultation to discuss and assess your needs, supporting you with suggestion, advice, solutions, and alternatives. So, whether you are implementing comprehensive changes or minor upgrades we will have you on track to return to the workplace come September.